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Assistance/representation IPEC

Posted: Sat Oct 19, 2019 11:32 am
by Bruno

First of all I would like to thank the creators and active users of this forum. It has helped me significantly in building my knowledge about copyright and how to handle a possible case.

I am business owner of a small business located in mainland Europe. We've been in discussion with a big UK retailer about copyright infringement on their behalf. As both parties have vastly different resources, we've been bounced around quite a bit by their team, but do not plan to leave it at this. Luckily for us the infringement itself seems pretty clear, so I'm positive -yet also still stressed- about a possible outcome. Right now it is clear that both parties do not agree on the issues at hand, meaning the logical next step is litigation. I have identified that IPEC's multi-track would be perfectly suitable for us and thus have started to complete the claim forms (together with the feedback from my mainland European lawyer).

I am now looking for an independent professional to review my claim, adjust where necessary and then start proceedings. Unfortunately all firms I've contacted are looking to provide an end-to-end solution and would thus like to review everything from scratch, which I'm not really prepared to do financially. As the claim should provide all necessary information to any third party, I feel like reviewing this specific document should help us prepare.

If anyone feels inclined to take this opportunity, feel free to send me a private message. I am more than happy to pay market rates for good assistance, but don't feel comfortable working with the bigger offices.

Re: Assistance/representation IPEC

Posted: Sat Oct 19, 2019 12:52 pm
by AndyJ
Hi Bruno,

I can't speak for any of the other members here but this is not really the right place for what you are seeking.

We can't give you legal advice on your specific litigation, although if there are any aspects of the law or the IPEC procedures on which you would like clarification, we should be able to help with that. Equally we can't recommend any particular firm of solicitors to assist you. The reason most solicitors would wish to start from scratch is in order to make sure they understand the full details of the case and advise you accordingly. This is part of their due diligence responsibilities. Using a non-qualified legal adviser means that you would have none of the safeguards (professional indemnity insurance, professional codes of conduct etc) to protect you if you are poorly advised. Under the UK legal system, such advisers are usually referred to as McKenzie Friends.

However I would suggest that going to court should not be the first step. You should try using one of the various alternative dispute resolution options. However this will only work if both parties agree to try this route, and from what you have said, that may be the problem. If you can get the other party to agree, then it sounds as if mediation would be the best option. This involves a knowledgeable third person discussing the issues separately with the two parties to the dispute, and suggesting ways of bringing the two sides to a closer agreement about the issue(s) which form the heart of the complaint. They can then help to bring the two parties into face-to-face (metaphorically speaking) discussion over the resolution.

If you do resort to using the IPEC, I assume that you feel you will need someone to assist/represent you in court and help put your case since you are based in Europe. If you were based in Britain I would say that you do not need either professional representation or a McKenzie friend as the court and its procedures are designed to be used by non-legally-qualified people, in order to keep the costs down. However given your circumstances, I can see that the extra reassurance of having assistance from someone familiar with the system might be an advantage.

Re: Assistance/representation IPEC

Posted: Sat Oct 19, 2019 1:26 pm
by Bruno
Hi Andy,

Thank you for your elaborate reply, I much appreciate it.

I do understand your point that any solicitor would need to do his due diligence, so I will definitely take that on board. Technically however I do feel that the claim I have prepared should be a great base point for anyone wishing to represent us. As the claim should be understood by any third party without any additional knowledge about the case, it in itself is a good test whether the claim is understandable and viable. Any questions arising from that, I would gladly clarify. But I understand it might be the wrong way round to go about these issues and that I might be missing some key things.

I do however not feel comfortable with the bigger law firms and therefor came to this forum to see if there are independent solicitors who would be interested in taking this up. My main doubts are in the procedure to get there as well as some of the details of the claim, but representing myself at court should be perfectly feasible. And I'm actually quite happy that the UK has introduced such a thing as IPEC as it clearly aims to help the smaller cases and inbalance between parties, I wouldn't probably be able to do something similar in my country. I have read most of the previous decisions at IPEC and understand that things are created to be accessible for companies with lesser means and less knowledge.

Re: Assistance/representation IPEC

Posted: Sat Oct 19, 2019 6:38 pm
by AndyJ
Hi again Bruno,

Thanks for the extra details.

If the value of your claim is under £10,000, you should consider using the Small Claims track of the IPEC as this is even less formal than the main IPEC court, and in theory, quicker. If you haven't already seen them, guidance notes on the Small Claims track can be found here (pdf).

If you want to find a solicitor who specialises in intellectual property law, you can use the search tool on the Law Society website. Click on the left hand box marked Your legal issue, then scroll down and select 'Media, IT and Intellectual Property' in the Business section. Leave the Location box unselected and press search. This will bring up a list of just over two thousand solicitors firms. However many of these firms will not specialise in IP law, or may only have one partner or associate who does.You can then discard any you think may be too big for your purposes, and then check on the individual qualifications and experience of members of firms you are interested in. Most will have websites where you can get further details of their work. Try contacting a few to see their rates. Some solicitors are also qualified to mediate disputes, as mentioned in my previous reply.